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Thread: U.S. Says It Knew Of Pakistani Reactor Plan

  1. #1
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    U.S. Says It Knew Of Pakistani Reactor Plan

    U.S. Says It Knew of Pakistani Reactor Plan
    Congress Learned of Nation's Nuclear Expansion From Independent Analysts

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...400995_pf.html

    (Gold9472: Our good friends Pakistan.)

    By Joby Warrick
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, July 25, 2006; A11

    The Bush administration acknowledged yesterday that it had long known about Pakistan's plans to build a large plutonium-production reactor, but it said the White House was working to dissuade Pakistan from using the plant to expand its nuclear arsenal.

    "We discourage military use of the facility," White House spokesman Tony Snow said of a powerful heavy-water reactor under construction at Pakistan's Khushab nuclear site in Punjab state.

    The reactor, which reportedly will be capable of producing enough plutonium for as many as 50 bombs each year, was brought to light on Sunday by independent analysts who spotted the partially completed plant in commercial-satellite photos. Snow said the administration had "known of these plans for some time."

    The acknowledgment came as arms-control experts and some in Congress expressed alarm about a possible escalation of South Asia's arms race. Some also sharply criticized the administration for failing to disclose the existence of a facility that could influence an upcoming congressional debate over U.S. nuclear policy toward India and Pakistan.

    "If either India or Pakistan starts increasing its nuclear arsenal, the other side will respond in kind," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-chairman of a House bipartisan task force on nonproliferation. "The Bush administration's proposed nuclear deal with India is making that much more likely."

    That proposal would allow the United States to share civilian nuclear technology with India.

    Construction of the reactor in Pakistan began as early as 2000, and the plant is still several years from completion, according to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based nonprofit group that produces technical assessments of nuclear weapons facilities. Based on a study of satellite photos, the group estimated the new reactor to have an operating capacity of 1,000 megawatts thermal and an annual yield of at least 200 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium.

    A small reactor already operating at the Khushab site is capable of producing about 10 kilograms of plutonium a year, according to the analysis.

    The Pakistani Foreign Ministry, reacting to a Washington Post article about the new plant, neither disputed the report nor offered specifics about the reactor. Pakistani officials acknowledged the nation's long-term ambition to expand its nuclear power infrastructure and modernize its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan is thought to possess up to 50 nuclear bombs, all based on designs that use highly enriched uranium and generally are more cumbersome than plutonium devices.

    "This ought to be no revelation to anyone, because Pakistan is a nuclear-weapons state," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said at a news conference in Islamabad, according to the Associated Press.

    Aslam said Pakistan's leaders "do not want an arms race in this region," but she noted that Pakistan was not the first nation in South Asia to test nuclear weapons. Rival India first tested a nuclear device in 1974 and currently has about 30 plutonium-based warheads.

    Weapons experts worried yesterday that Pakistan's expanded nuclear capabilities would lead countries in the region -- other than India -- to follow suit.

    "There are makings of a vigorous competition in fissile material production in South Asia -- between India and Pakistan in the first instance but also China as well," said Robert Einhorn, formerly the State Department's chief nonproliferation official and now a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. "It would be one thing if we were talking just about well-secured nuclear bombs. A larger concern is the greater amounts of fissile material, which create more opportunities for terrorists to get their hands on it."

    Henry D. Sokolski, the Defense Department's top nonproliferation official during the George H.W. Bush administration, said he was most surprised by the way news of the reactor in Pakistan became known.

    "What is baffling is that this information -- which was surely information that our own intelligence agencies had -- was kept from Congress," said Sokolski, now director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "We lack imagination if we think that this is no big deal."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    Pakistan launches huge nuclear arms drive
    The Guardian

    · Satellite images reveal major building site
    · US and China embroiled in buildup of rival arsenals


    Pakistan appears to have embarked on a dramatic expansion of its nuclear arsenal with the construction of a new heavy water reactor capable of producing enough plutonium for up to 50 warheads a year, according to a report released yesterday by a US thinktank.


    A satellite image showing Pakistan's Khushab plutonium production reactor. Photograph: EPA

    The report by the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis), is largely based on commercially available satellite images showing a large building site at a nuclear production complex at Khushab, in Pakistani Punjab. Isis, a non-governmental nuclear watchdog, estimates that the huge rectangular building under construction and the circular structure inside it almost certainly represent the early stages of a 1,000MW reactor capable of generating more than 200kg (440lbs) of weapons-grade plutonium per year. When completed it would be 20 times the size of the existing reactor at Khushab.

    Article continues
    The Khushab complex uses deuterium oxide, known as heavy water because of its chemical similarity to water, to produce plutonium and tritium, which is used as a booster in nuclear fission weapons.

    The Isis report suggests the Indian government must know of the new reactor and may be seeking to increase its own plutonium production. In an agreement with the Bush administration, under review by Congress this week, India insisted several of its own nuclear reactors remain exempt from international safeguards.

    "South Asia may be heading for a nuclear arms race that could lead to arsenals growing into the hundreds of nuclear weapons, or at a minimum vastly expanded stockpiles of military fissile material," the Isis report said.

    The Pakistani army is thought to have about 50 uranium warheads. India and Pakistan, which have fought three conventional wars in less than 60 years, already have nuclear weapons and an arsenal of missiles capable of reaching far beyond each other's territory.

    There has so far been no official reaction from Islamabad, although the Washington Post quoted an unnamed "senior Pakistani official" as acknowledging that an expansion of the country's nuclear programme was under way.

    Ayesha Siddiqi Agha, a Pakistani writer on defence issues, pointed out that since Washington had proposed a nuclear deal with India, the Pakistani establishment had been keen to "match it": "The signal is that while India surges ahead, Pakistan has ways to pull them off balance. So this may be about restoring a psychological balance between the two."

    Commodore Uday Bhaskar of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analysis in Delhi suggested the timing of the report could be intended to influence the US Congress's debate on the Indian deal:

    "My initial reaction is that one of the report's authors [David Albright] is a critic of the India-US nuclear deal and therefore this report has to be seen in the light of its passage through Congress. It may be true but there's a reason why the report appears now."

    Mr Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who now runs Isis, denied there was any link between the timing of the report and the congressional debate. "It is a strange twist to the debate to see a potential Pakistani threat to India as an attempt to derail the India agreement in Congress," he said, adding that the publication was dictated more by the need to get the report out before the summer holidays began.

    There is speculation in Delhi that the new plant may be a fresh sign of China's commitment to a "strategic partnership" with Pakistan. The pair already have extensive military and diplomatic ties.

    "China has supported Pakistan since the 80s and it remains the wild card here," Commodore Bhaskar said. "At the time of the Indo-US deal, there were clear indications that Beijing thought if Washington can assist India, China can aid Pakistan."

    Mr Albright said Chinese assistance was a possibility.

    "You always worry that some of this is coming from China. Can Pakistan really do all this on its own? You wonder," he said. "That would be very serious."

    According to the Isis report, construction of the new reactor at Khushab began in March 2000 and could be finished in a few years.

    "However, nothing suggests that Pakistan is moving quickly to finish this reactor," the report said, suggesting that there may be a bottleneck in the supply of heavy water or in Pakistan's fuel reprocessing capacity.

  3. #3
    beltman713 Guest
    They knew, and it's perfectly acceptable. Now they will be able to build between 40 and 50 warheads a year, no problem. Are they fucking insane?

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